Alienation and Isolation in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Essay
Alienation and Isolation Alienation and isolation have been apparent in society since the beginning of man. When an individual stumbles outside the realm of social normality they are viewed as degradation to society or a threat to normal society. (“Truthmove” 2012) In the gothic tale of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley frequently displays the many different forms of alienation. Victor Frankenstein and his creation were two of the characters in this book that went through alienation and isolation.
Victor experiences alienation regularly throughout the majority of his life.
From an early age Victor Frankenstein isolated himself from the outside world. While not engaged in his studies of natural philosophy Victor could be found in the company of his family and his closest friend Henry Clerval. In the novel Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein states, “I was, to a great degree, self-taught with regard to my favorite studies. My father was not scientific, and I was left to struggle with a child’s blindness, added to a student’s thirst for knowledge.
(Shelley 36) In this quotation Mary Shelley is trying to convey the fact that the young Victor Frankenstein had been totally mesmerized by this new thirst of knowledge, and nobody to share this interest with and nobody to mentor him in his studies. At the age of seventeen, Victor leaves his family and friends in Geneva to pursue his studies of natural philosophy and science at the university in Ingolstadt. Victor isolates himself from the outside world, including his family as he finds himself getting closer to finding the secret of life.
Victor has not been alienated by his family, classmates or friends; this is a lifestyle of constant learning and isolation that he has chosen for himself. Overly obsessed with his experiments and the creation of the monster he hides away in his laboratory until his subject of research is brought to life. After Victor has forsaken his creation and the monster has taken his vengeance upon him, Victor finds himself isolated from the rest of society due to the fact that the monster has destroyed everything that he had held dear to him in life.
In the end, Victor finds himself in the company of Walton, where he tells him the misfortunes of his solitary life and about the monster that he created and in turn destroyed his life. Victor’s creation was another character in this story that experienced alienation and isolation. The monster was subjected to alienation his entire life. Unlike his creator, the monster did not choose this life of segregation, he was born into it. It seemed as if from the very first moment that Victor had laid eyes upon his creation he was viewed as being an abomination, and condemned to a life of rejection.
The first experience that the monster had in life was upon opening his eyes and seeing the look of terror in his creator’s eyes. After Victor had abandoned his creation the creature is left with only questions and no one to answer them. It seems as if all that the creature really wants is companionship and to be an accepted member of society. In the beginning the creature did not harbor any mal-intent, but society could not see who he was on the inside; they could only see his monstrous outward appearance.
In the creature’s second experience with alienation he innocently wanders out into the city. The citizens of the village were truly horrified by the sight of the hideous creature. Some pummeled him with stones while others fled in fear. For Victor’s creation this was just another sign that he could never be accepted by society. The next experience that the creature has with humans is with the DcLacey family. The creature decides to hide and observe the DcLacey family due to his previous experiences with humans.
The creature hides and learns to speak by watching the family communicate with each other. Frankenstein’s creation longs to be accepted by the DcLacey family, so in an act of hope and optimism he decides one day to speak to the blind father of the family. The creature is able to tell his story and gain sympathy from the blind man until they are interrupted by the blind man’s children. The creature is once again viewed as a threat and he is attacked by the children and forced out of the house by the blind man’s son, Felix.
During this occurrence the creature is narrating, and he states, “Felix darted forward, and with supernatural force tore me from his father, to whose knees I clung; in a transport of fury, he dashed me to the ground and struck me violently with a stick. ”(Shelley 161) Once again the creature is alienated due to his hideous appearance. For a brief moment the creature was accepted and shown compassion, but this was only because the man was unable to see him. Upon his rejection from the DcLacey family he realizes that he will never be accepted by humans.
After he is rejected by the DcLacey family and Victor refuses to create him a companion he vows to respond to humans and mainly his creator in the same way that they have responded to him, with violence. The creature was made with the body parts of different corpses, so in turn he displays a human form. The creature is also able to communicate well and has the capability to show human emotions. This shows alienation in that the monster was made from human parts, so he is technically human, but he will never be accepted by humans.
In this Shelley shows that deviance is not accepted by society. Victor Frankenstein and his creation were two fairly different creatures, yet neither one could have existed without the other. In today’s society there are many people that can relate to Mary Shelley’s characters in her novel Frankenstein. Some choose to alienate themselves because they don’t feel like they can relate to anyone or they don’t feel that anyone understands them. Others are alienated because they don’t conform to the norms of society and are shunned because of their differences.
Shelley was not trying to depict her characters in her novel as being evil, but the true evil was undeniably their overwhelming isolation. (“LitCharts” 2012). The true tragedy in this gothic tale was the isolation that Victor and his creation experienced. Works Cited “Psychology. ” Truthmove. N. p. ,n. d. Web. 28Oct. 2012 http://www. truthmove. org/content/alienation/. “Frankenstein:Themes. ” LitCharts. com. N. p. ,n. d. Web. 28Oct. 2012. http://www. litcharts. com/lit/frankenstein/themes. Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Revised ed. London: Penguin Group, 1992. N. pag. Print.